The Provence is an area in South-East France, mainly famous for the production of Rose wines, but I’ve had many fine reds as well.
- Via Ferrata
A Via Ferrata, Klettersteig or Road of Steel is a parcours built into the rocks. It involves a lot of climbing and you will experience a great flow of adrenaline running through your body as you ascend to great heights. The Provence area has many Via Ferratas around in many different levels. For the professionals, the area is also rich in actual rock climbing walls and parcours. Go wild!
- Wine Tasting
As mentioned before, the area is well known for is wines (as are many areas in France). I am personally not too much into fancy wines and all that, but I am always interested to learn something new. The stories about the origin of different wines are very interesting and of course you get to taste different wines and get a little bit tipsy. There are many small villages and wineries that will let you try their wines, so just inform about it in the area where you are.
Hate it or love it, but if you’re an outdoor person you can just walk out of your doorstep/tent/car and walk into wonderful nature. There are many hiking tracks in the area. Some are better taken care of than others. We actually encountered one hiking track of which the sign said it would take 2 hours to hike 2 kilometres. Someone had written “Faux Passe”Le Château” – La Motte – Calancon” next to it in pen, which means that the route does not exist. We tried it nevertheless and the 2 hours for 2 kilometres seemed about right. You could call the track a track if you had enough imagination. What I am meaning to say? Bring good hiking shoes and don’t be afraid of a scratch or wet socks.
- Water Fun
The Provence is rich in plenty of lakes, rivers and the sea in the South. With the good weather in summer and spring that warm up the water to remain warm throughout autumn, the provence is a great place for water activities. Whether it is swimming, canoeing or strolling through the water along the beach, it is al possible!
As for hiking, a mountainous area is usually good for cycling. The mountain asphalt roads are good for racing whereas you can go off-road for a mountainbiking experience. Plenty of choices for anyone.
- Castles and Ruins
Hiking through are area we encountered many old castle ruins of which only a few walls were still standing and nature was taking over. I personally love these places where man-made history and nature meet to unite. Many of them are not even represented on maps, but you will find them by just looking around. One hint is one castle ruin on top of a mountain near La Motte Chalancon. Beware though, there is not much left of it. Just a few walls, so don’t go here expecting an enormous castle.
If enormous castles that are well-preserverd are more your sort of thing there are also various places that you can go to. We visited the Citadel in Sisteron which was so large that you can spend half your day there (entrance fee 6,95), but the Provence has many, many more.
- City Trip
If you prefer having a drink and good food over getting tired outdoors, the Provence can also be the place for you. Apart from big cities near the coast such as Marseille and Avignon there are many smaller, pittoresque villages around. I was positively surprised about Sisteron for example. A cute city with a Citadel in which concerts and theatre pieces are displayed live throughout summer! There will be many, many more.
Where (not) to stay?
The places I remember where I have stayed in Provence are
Camping Le Village, La Motte-Chalancon (6/10)
This is where I stayed during my fieldwork (May 2016). The campsite is not much more than a large piece of grass with electricity supply, but there are some wooden cottages for rent as well. The campsite has rather nice showers with a good temperature, running warm and cold water and barbeques for public use. The warden is very friendly and helpful, but he is not great at keeping the toilets clean and supplied with toilet paper. He is trying thouh and it is not so much work to bring your own toilet paper if you need to. The campsite does have a tennis court and a swimming pool, that both look rather old but useful. I tried neither myself because I don’t play tennis and I visited the camping in May, when the pool was not in use yet. However it looked like they were preparing it for summer season. Furthermore there is a nice playground, washing machines and the campsite will let you use their Petanque balls and other accesoires.
The camping is sufficient, but not fantastic. Good value for the price though as it is not expensive either.
Domaine de Beauregard, Mornas (7/10)
This is a camping where I worked as animatrice during summer season in 2012. The camping is a lot larger and better-maintained than camping le village. This is not strange though, as it is aimed more at families than outdoor adventure tourists. Except for camping, you can rent many different types of mobile homes. The campsite has everthing you can wish for: a swimming pool with waterslides, entertainment, a restaurant, a bakery, midget golf.
I would recommend this place for families with younger children. However, since I try to aim more at backpackers, solo travellers and couples I would not recommend this place. It is great for people who will spend a lot of time on the campsite itself with their childeren, but if you are in for exploring the area you might be better off searching for a quiter, cheaper camping with less facilities or facilities aimed more at youth and adults.
Where (not) to eat?
L’Auberge des 4 saisons, Cornillon (8/10) – May 2016
This is a cute little restaurant in a village that is about just as small. It seems to be always busy as it is one of the best places to eat in the area. The staff is friendly, the cook is crazy, but in a positive way and the views are outstanding. The restaurant has menus in three price categories reaching from affordable to fancy. I have only tried the affordable menu and the food was good so I can only imagine what the fancy one must be like. The restaurant offers enough choices for everyone and if you want to enjoy a good meal with a great view, sit out on the balcony and relax!
Restaurant du Cours, Sisteron (9/10) – May 2016
Sisteron has many places to choose from if you want to go for dinner. We thought this place looked nicest though and they had a day menu for €15,- which includes dessert. The day menu looked great, but if you want a little bit more choice you can go for the €18,- menu which also includes dessert, but offers a bit more choices for the main course. There are plenty of other options, but as a poor student I have only looked at the cheaper options. The menu did not show any vegetarian options, so I asked if there was a possibility for a vegetarian day menu. The response was that this could be arranged and I expected a heap of piled up, grilled veggies on a plate, as is often the case with an improvised vegetarian menu. I would have been happy with that, but I considered myself really lucky when I received a beautiful plate with some grilled veggies, beans, potato gratin ánd a side salad! The food tasted great and had a lot of variation. I absolutely loved it and I loved the deserts even more. We could choose ice cream, fruit salad or pie from the pie cart. As the pies on this cart looked lovely, all three of us decided that we would go with the pie, only now there was still the challenge of deciding which one. After we had stood there for a while, the waiter notified us that we were allowed three pieces each! Wow. I was speachless and would highly recommend this restaurant to any one.
Rent a villa
If you would love to see the area, but prefer to stay in a house or villa rather than camping, here are two websites that you can use to book your stay. Enjoy the beauty of the Provence!